Q&A with: Skarp
The Data Sharing Coalition is an open and growing, international initiative in which a large variety of organisations collaborate on unlocking the value of cross-sectoral data sharing. In our recurring blog section ‘Q&A with’, you learn more about our participants and their thoughts, vision and ideas about data sharing. Richard van der Zee, Founder and CEO of Skarp, shares his thoughts.
1. Could you briefly introduce your organisation?
The digital future has only just begun. Skarp works on better, cheaper and easier (management and accounting) information systems, providing organisations with the right tooling so they can enjoy the full potential of being data-driven.
We have accomplished our goal of ‘sector context’-driven data transformations, generating data warehouses from ‘source to dashboard’. Creating building blocks ready for use in self-service BI environments like Power BI or input for AI models. We call this ‘Sector Intelligence (as a service)’.
Through our cloud-based platform, we deliver (SBR/XBRL) accounting information to the government, organise benchmark information for sectors and easy-to-use (BI) management data for within the individual companies, all based on open standards within the specific vertical. Currently, Skarp is operating successfully in two sectors: the Social Housing corporations and Finance (Skarpfin). We continuously work to become successful in other sectors.
Exchange of validated an standardised data is a precondition to make the shift to a more data-driven organisation.
2. To what extent is your organisation involved in data sharing (within and across sectors)?
As we believe standardisation comes before innovation and sharing, we are one of the driving forces behind the data standard for the housing corporations sector; VERA. We translated the mandatory reporting information requested by the government into Performance Indicators on VERA. We shared these with the entire sector, which created a unique open platform that established the meaning of data within the sector. We call this the ‘sector context’. Furthermore, we needed some ‘labeling’ of financial data. We introduced RGS (a reference ledger scheme) in the sector and contributed to its expansion, needed for sector specific cases. We also found a way to interpret XBRL taxonomies into our meta-data layer, necessary to create forms and to create XBRL/SBR messages.
With these standards in place, we build connectors and appliances to gather data and share it with several parties. On our own platform, the output of these adapters is used for different goals. We generate data warehouses, tabular models, automated data quality checks, XBRL/SBR messages and so on. Now that sharing data between common systems within the sector can be performed, questions about sharing data across the whole supply chain led us to investigate ‘data standards’ used by parties that are not in, but working intensively with, the sector. Based on our approach, we need to be able to exchange more messages based on different standards, at the same time, across different sectors. That’s where the Data Sharing Coalition comes in.
3. Why is or should sharing data be important for your industry or domain?
The added value of being able to share validated data is evident: business processes can run better and data can be combined into information easier and faster. This leads to better and faster insight into the business operations or even the functioning of an entire supply chain or sector without discussions about the meaning of this information. Exchange of validated an standardised data is a precondition to make the shift to a more data-driven organisation.
4. What are the most promising data sharing developments and trends you see in your sector?
I think in the social housing sector VERA and RGS have finally been accepted. There is still a lot of work to be done on the source side (where the data originates), so adapters are unfortunately still necessary. Cross-sectorally, we see BIM and other standards to exchange data with construction companies and contractors. For accounting, the XBRL/SBR has become the standard way to send data to the government. Also, more and more open data is available which can be combined with sector/company data.
5. How do you see the future of data sharing, and what steps are you currently taking in that direction?
I hope that all companies in a chain or sector will realise that having their own data is gold, but sharing data with others provides much more added value. That is why we have joined the Data Sharing Coalition. We also believe that ‘seeing is believing’. So every day, our platform proves that combining data from multiple sources leads to better insights and therefore increases the quality of both internal and external processes.
6. Why are you participating in the Data Sharing Coalition?
Sharing your knowledge with others is the only way to become smarter yourself. The Knowledge Sharing Coalition, but with a practical focus on data sharing. Skarp hopes to learn and to help others.
Do you want to know which organisations are participating in the Data Sharing Coalition? Read more.